Saying a delay of 15 years and nine months was unjustified for a murder accused to have his matter before the court completed, a High Court judge allowed a 41-year-old baker and cake decorator to leave the Port of Spain High Court a free man yesterday.
However, an error on the part of Justice Malcolm Holdip resulted in Anthony Amogan's co-accused, Michael Ramdawar, being ordered to go to trial.
Holdip, shortly after, re-convened the matter and advised attorneys he intended to re-visit his ruling in relation to Ramdawar. The matter will come up again on Tuesday.
Emerging from the Hall of Justice, Amogan thanked his attorney, Daniel Khan, for taking up the matter when several other attorneys appointed by the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority returned the brief. Amogan was also represented by attorney Rajiv Persad.
"I am very grateful to God for being a free man today," Amogan said.
"It was not easy. The experience was very hard. They are not really doing anything to enhance the situation at all."
Asked about his view of the justice system, in light of his lengthy incarceration, Armogan, who lived at Frederick Settlement, Caroni, said the wheels of justice are moving too slowly.
"There are persons in prison today who are suffering because of delays caused by the prosecution always making excuses. There was no need for that. They could have done this case expeditiously just how they did for (Ishwar) Galbaransingh and (Steve) Ferguson and them. They had a motion filed and, in 2010, it came up before the court and when the prosecution asked for time, the Judge said no.
"This motion I filed here was filed since the February 20, 2009. The prosecution take 29 months to respond. After they respond from last year June to this year July, we came to court here begging for three days in the court and could not get three days."
Amogan said he is looking forward to putting the past behind him and moving on with his life. He is hoping to be able to rekindle the relationship he once had with his son and three daughters.
Amogan and Ramdawar were charged on March 12, 1997, for the murder of Ramcoomar Ramoutar, which occurred on February 22, 1997. They were committed to stand trial on July 16, 1999, and an indictment was filed on September 19, 2000.
Their first trial began on October 8, 2001, but was aborted on October 9, 2001. The second trial was held between March 18 and May 29, 2003, and Amogan and Ramdawar were found guilty and were sentence by Justice Prakash Moosai to suffer death by hanging.
The notes of evidence became available on April 27, 2006, and the men successfully appealed the conviction and sentence.
A retrial was ordered on December 15, 2006, and the matter was placed on a Cause List hearing for February 12, 2007.
Their attorneys filed an application seeking to have the indictments quashed on the basis of delay.
In delivering his judgment, Holdip also commented on the difficulties Amogan and Ramdawar experienced in getting Legal Aid-appointed attorneys to represent them. He said it is difficult to classify the situation as inordinate prosecutorial delay since efforts were still being made to secure legal representation for the men into early 2011."
Ramdawar was represented by attorney Mario Merritt, while the State was represented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Kathy-Ann Waterman-Latchoo.